Boing Boing Gift Guide 2015

It's that time of year again! Welcome to Boing Boing's 2015 Gift Guide, where you'll find toys, books, gadgets and many other splendid ideas to humor and harry your friends and family! Scroll down and buy things, mutants!

Learn coding with Minecraft? It's not just for kids

The developers of Minecraft have created a new tool designed to teach coding to kids—but it has a lot to offer grown-up newbies, too.

Upvote this: Teach kids in underserved communities how to code with Minecraft

Camp Minecraft. The goal: Bring it to more kids whose families can't pay.

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

Read the rest

LA Makerspace founder Tara Tiger Brown shares her favorite tools


Tara Tiger Brown is the founder of nonprofit organization LA Makerspace, the premier STEAM service provider for the Los Angeles Public Library. She’s also the co-founder of Kithub, creative electronics kits for kids, and co-founder of Connected Camps, which has online camps for kids including a Minecraft coding club. Read the rest

How games are keeping traditional symphony orchestras in business

Read about the surprising role games are playing in sustaining symphony orchestras, one woman's struggle in a toxic industry, and how a player discovered their sexuality in Borderlands.

Be a Minecraft creeper this halloween, $13

Minecraft Creeper

As I continue to search for a Halloween costume, I thought the kids might be more familiar with a Minecraft creeper!

A couple years back, Cory shared this DIY creeper costume. I don't have that level of commitment, but for $13 this might be a lot easier to wear than the Stay Puft Marshmallow man I've been considering.

My daughter finds minecraft a bit tough, I'm told its the version she is playing and I/we should try another. I wonder if she'll enjoy this...

Minecraft Box Heads, Creeper via Amazon Read the rest

Kickstarting a game: "Minecraft, but you're a dog, and everything's beautiful"


Margaret writes, "Esteemed NYC game-maker Kevin Cancienne (part of the team behind highly adored Drop 7) is launching Home Free, an utterly unique dog exploration game. It's Minecraft, but you're a dog, and everything's beautiful." Read the rest

An online Java course for kids, taught via Minecraft


At the beginning of the summer my son Ronan, age 12, and I built him his first high-powered gaming PC. Me being a dad and all, I did so happily, but with one proviso -- he’d have to dedicate time every day to learning a programming language. He was slightly sceptical of this, having taken a few less-than-interesting intro to programming classes in the past. Prepared for this, I recommended that we enroll him in Youth Digital’s comprehensive Java course called Minecraft Server Desgin 1. This got his full attention, as he had dreams of creating his own custom servers and gameplay modes to host Minecraft sessions with his friends.

We signed him up and dove in. Our immediate impression was that site and course are smartly designed and easy to navigate. All material is introduced through clear, well-produced, often funny videos that didn’t talk down him, but instead did a great job of walking him through new concepts, then pausing while he took pop quizzes and did hands-on coding exercises.  

The course includes a year of server hosting, 24-hour tech support (that was fast and helpful the few times he’s needed it), and perhaps best of all, a browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) for editing the game, player, and team Java files. Within this Codenvy IDE (Windows and OSX only), you can launch the updated server with one button, which makes it fast to test code and correlate newly learned concepts with the “real world” Minecraft results.

He chose one of the four pre-built maps, learned to modify the default server file description text, whitelisted a few friend, and launched his Minecraft server within the first hour of instruction. Read the rest

Father builds glowing life-sized Minecraft block for son's birthday


Nathan Pryor (HaHaBird) made this fantastic life-sized illuminated Minecraft block for his son's birthday. It's lit with RGB LEDs so the color can be changed via remote control. Read the rest

Parenting and the Internet: the smarter, missing third way

My new Guardian column, What is missing from the kids’ internet? discusses three different approaches to teaching kids information literacy: firewall-based abstinence education; trust/relationship-based education, and a third way, which is the proven champion of the offline world. Read the rest

Dispatch from Planet Comic-Con

A lapsed nerd comes home.

Kids in the Hall Minecraft tees

Tavie sez, "There's a tee shirt from the Kids in the Hall's recent tour that shows 5 KITH characters as Minecraft avatars. The Chicken Lady one kills me." Read the rest

7 games you can play with Google Maps

Explore the many trivia, hidden object, shooting and driving games created around Google Maps, from Streetview Zombie Apocalypse to Google Sheep View.

Making a stone axe from scratch

It took this guy over week a to make a stone axe from scratch. I can do it in much faster in Minecraft.

The manufacture of a stone ax including the handle from using only primitive tools and materials. It is a celt (pronounced "selt") a type of ax with a polished stone head wedged into a hole or mortise at the end of a wooden handle. The head took about a week and a day to make as I chose to make it from a particularly large piece of basalt. This involved hammering, pecking, grinding and polishing the head into the final shape. The handle took a day and a morning to make. A chisel was made from stone and a mallet made from a log. These were used to cut the tree for the handle and shape it once down. Fire was used to harden the wood and also to help shape the mortise. The ax was then used to cut down a tree the day after the handle was a tree itself. It is a more efficient tool for felling trees than the hand ax I made and at the time of uploading this video has cut down 4 trees which I will use later.

Read the rest

Read Chris Ware's perfect description of Minecraft's appeal

The artist's 10 year-old daughter builds worlds and expresses her attitude to possibility in the infinitely-playful Minecraft universe.

Watch Minecraft become holographic in Microsoft Hololens E3 demo


Amazing gameplay footage: Minecraft through the Hololens. The VR demo from Microsoft executive Sax Persson today at the annual E3 games convention completely transforms the experience of Minecraft.

Microsoft acquired Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 billion last year.

From PopSci:

“This is a live demo, with real working code,” Persson said, before donning the HoloLens and projecting a Minecraft map onto a wall, and then a table onstage. Microsoft announced Minecraft would be a main attraction of the HoloLens earlier in the year, but this is the first working demo the company has shown to the public.

Viewers were able to see Persson’s augmented reality through a “special camera” outfitted to show the HoloLens display in real time, as he played the game on the wall with an Xbox controller.

Persson then walked over to the table, said, “create world,” and watched as the Minecraft world poured onto the table. This was met with perhaps the loudest applause of Microsoft’s presentation, as he continued to use voice commands and gestures to manipulate the world. The virtual projection constrained itself to the edges of the table well, and the camera was able to look inside of structures by moving through the virtual walls.

No HoloLens release date yet.

More at Boing Boing's OFFWORLD: “The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event

[Kotaku on YouTube]

Read the rest

The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event

Annual video game press conferences are often an assault on the senses, and on taste. We found the cool stuff for you.

Next page